Diego Costa left out of Chelsea squad after furious row with Antonio Conte and £30m China transfer offer

The Spain international wants to take up huge salary on offer in China and will not face Leicester City on Saturday

Jack Pitt-Brooke@jackpittbrooke
Friday 13 January 2017 20:30
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Diego Costa returns from suspension for Chelsea against Stoke
Diego Costa returns from suspension for Chelsea against Stoke

Diego Costa wants to leave Chelsea. The Brazilian striker has had his head turned by a £30million salary offer from China, and has been dropped by Antonio Conte for Saturday's trip to Leicester City.

The Brazilian striker is unhappy with life in London, interested in a move to China, and that frustration spilled over into a furious row with Conte this week. The row stunned team-mates and the fall-out could derail Chelsea's title bid.

Despite being Chelsea’s best player this season, with 14 Premier League goals already, Costa dropped by Conte for Saturday evening's trip to the King Power Stadium. Chelsea have no obvious replacement for Costa but Conte has still decided to do without him. Costa had been working alone this week and the tension led to an argument about how to handle apparent back pain.

But Costa has been considering his Chelsea future all season, admitting recently that he was “about to leave” for Atletico Madrid last summer because of family reasons, only to end up staying at Chelsea because of the fans. He has never enjoyed living in London and has spoken with friends about leaving the club, talk which has intensified with the recent offer from China. Costa could earn almost £600,000 per week in China, making him the second best-paid footballer in the world behind Carlos Tevez.

Chelsea were confident that they could keep Costa this season, and were hoping that he would extend his contract at the club. That is now less likely after this big China offer and this week's fall-out with Conte. Costa wants to take the money on offer but Chelsea, who have already sold Costa’s compatriots Ramires and Oscar to China in the last year, have little incentive to sell him and will refuse to do so this month.

Happier times: Conte congratulates Diego Costa after their side's win over Stoke  

Costa is Chelsea’s only fit senior striker who Conte trusts, and he still thinks that young Belgian Michy Batshuayi has to improve. Conte wants to bring experienced Fernando Llorente, who he coached at Juventus, to Chelsea this month from Swansea City. If Costa wants to force a move this month then Chelsea will need to spend big to replace him. Chelsea declined to comment.

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